How To Run a Successful Business With a Spouse

6 Tips to Running a Business without Ruining Your Marriage

spouses look at computer together in home office
••• Westend61 / Getty Images

Starting and running a home business by yourself can be a challenge. You're responsible for all aspects of the business including the creation and delivery of the product or service, marketing, administrative tasks, and more. It would seem reasonable then, that having a spouse as a partner would make running the business easier. After all you both live under the same roof and have the same personal investment in the business' success.

The reality is, running a business with a spouse can create additional stress in the marriage and family, and so to be a successful team, there are a few things you should consider and anticipate before becoming married business partners.

How to Build a Successful Business With a Spouse

To help increase the chances of a successful business with a spouse, consider these important strategies:

1) Make Sure You Are Both Ready and On the Same Page In Terms of Goals and Expectations:

Whether someone in the marriage is already involved in the business and you're contemplating bringing on your spouse or you're deciding to start something from scratch together, take the time to discuss the pros and cons of starting a business. Review the the business plan to identify and anticipate areas of the business that can impact your personal life. For example, if your business involves travel, which of you will go and how will the person staying home feel about that? Set ground rules about how business decisions will be made to help avoid stress and strain on your marriage. For you and your spouse to be successful in your home business, honest communication is crucial.

2) Play To Your Differing Strengths:

An advantage to having a spouse in the business is that you can each take care of tasks that you're best at. Dividing responsibilities can also help you avoid the conflict of you both trying to do the same thing, but having differing ideas on how it should be done.

3) Set Clear Rules of Operation – and Then Trust Your Spouse:

Once you have decided on which areas of the business each of you will manage, set-up clear rules of operation and don’t veer from it. Most importantly, you do your job and trust your spouse to do his or hers. Trying to micro-manage is not only inefficient, it tells your spouse that you are not confident in his or her abilities.

4) Don’t Be Afraid to Involve a Trusted Third Party To Help With The Business:

Just because it is a family business, doesn’t mean the business operations have to stay strictly between husband and wife. Bringing in a trusted third party to assist with certain areas of the business may take off some of the pressure. This is especially true if there are areas neither of you are knowledgeable about or agree on. A third person can bring more talent to your business, as well as be tie-breaking vote on a decision.

5) Create Clear Lines of Separation Between “Married Time” and “Business Time”:

Living and working under the same roof with your spouse means it isn’t as easy to go home and shake off the day or create a healthy work-life balance. Especially if you're running your business from home, it's extremely easy to let work life bleed into home life. It's important that you set up boundaries so that your marriage doesn't just become about business. One way to so that is to have a separate home office for each of you. Have a set schedule that work is done, and when the work day is over, focus on the same types of things you would if you had traditional jobs, such as making dinner together and caring for the kids. Make talk about work off-limits during your non-work time.

6) Have A Business Meeting Once a Month:

Success in any goal involves evaluating and readjusting. The same is true in a home business run by spouses. It's important that you take time at least once a month to review your goals and accomplishments, as well as discuss issues and concerns, and make any adjustments needed to keep your business on the right path. It's important that you both be professional, and not bring in personal issues as you discuss your business.

The Benefits of a Business With a Spouse

Owning a business with a spouse presents some challenges, but the benefits of working alongside your husband or wife can be huge. Being able to sync work schedules, do something you both love and have a trusted business partner are just a few of the wonderful things that can come from owning a business with your spouse.

The key to success is to run the business like a business – not like a family matter. Separating out any marital bias from the picture will allow both husband and wife to communicate as they should, like business partners. This alone can increase the odds of business success.